UPDATE: Roger Mason Jr. has walked back his statement about LeBron James leading a player boycott. Get the details on The Early Lead.
LeBron James has said he will lead a player boycott if Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling still owns the team next season.
“I was just in the locker room, three, four days ago,” said Roger Mason Jr., the vice president of the NBA players association in an interview with Jim Rome for “Jim Rome on Showtime.” “LeBron and I talked about it. He ain’t playing if Sterling is still an owner.”
NBA commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling from the NBA for life and announced the league’s intention to force Sterling to sell the team after Sterling admitted he made racist remarks to V. Stiviano, his girlfriend, in a recorded phone call that was released to TMZ.
The decision shouldn’t come as a complete surprise to basketball fans. When the Clippers dropped their warmups at center court and wore their practice jerseys inside-out to silently protest Sterling, James and the Miami Heat did the same in solidarity at a playoff game against the Charlotte Bobcats.
Sterling asked Stiviano not to bring Magic Johnson to Clippers games and asked her to take down the photo she’d posted on Instagram with the former Lakers great because he was black. In an exclusive CNN interview with Anderson Cooper, Sterling continued to berate Johnson. “Here is a man, he acts so holy,” Sterling said. “I mean, he made love to every girl in every city in America and he had AIDS, and when he had those AIDS, I went to my synagogue and I prayed for him.”
Later he told Cooper:
What kind of a guy goes to every city, has sex with every girl, then he catches HIV? Is that someone we want to respect and tell our kids about? I think he should be ashamed of himself. I think he should go into the background. But what does he do for the black people? He doesn’t do anything.
Silver reiterated his commitment to force Sterling sell the team. In a statement released Monday, Smith wrote:
I just read a transcript of Donald Sterling’s interview with Anderson Cooper and while Magic Johnson doesn’t need me to, I feel compelled on behalf of the NBA family to apologize to him that he continues to be dragged into this situation and be degraded by such a malicious and personal attack. The NBA Board of Governors is continuing with its process to remove Mr. Sterling as expeditiously as possible.
Shelly Sterling, Donald’s wife, has said that she doesn’t want to sell and will fight the decision if other NBA owners vote him out, asserting that 50 percent of the team is hers.
“Under the NBA constitution, if a controlling owner’s interest is terminated by a three-quarter vote, all other team owners’ interests are automatically terminated as well,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement released Sunday night. “It doesn’t matter whether the owners are related as is the case here. These are the rules to which all NBA owners agreed to as a condition of owning their team.”
Shelly has been accused of making racially insensitive statements of her own in relation to the housing discrimination lawsuits against her husband. She distanced herself from him an interview with Barbara Walters, saying, “I don’t love him. I pity him and I feel sorry for him.” She also announced her intention to divorce Donald.
Mason told Rome that Shelly remaining as an owner would be unacceptable. “There’s no place for that family in the NBA,” he said. James voiced the same sentiment during practice Sunday. “As players, we want what’s right and we don’t feel like no one in his family should be able to own the team,” James said.